Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner announced today that he will retire as chairman of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation on January 1. Current Rock Hall board member John Sykes will take over as chairman, while Wenner will remain on the board of directors.
Wenner was one of the founding members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He recruited architect I.M. Pei to build the organization’s building along the Cleveland skyline. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum opened in 1995 and has attracted over 13 million visitors to date.
“I was a lucky man to be given this once in a lifetime mission to honor the history of the music I love. I am delighted to have John Sykes to take over,” said Wenner, remains Rolling Stone’s editorial director. Rolling Stone was acquired by Penske Media, which also owns Variety, in 2018.
The Rock Hall induction ceremony, hosted by Wenner and the organization’s first chairman, the late Atlantic Records cofounder Ahmet Ertegun, began as an industry dinner in the New York City Waldorf Astoria hotel ballroom in 1986 and has now grown to become an arena-level event. Over the last 34 years, 330 artists have been inducted.
“Jann is always the man with a vision and he had a great one for the Hall of Fame,” Bruce Springsteen said in a statement. “He built a beautiful and credible home for our history and deserves our appreciation and respect for this tremendous accomplishment.”
“A long time ago, when no one was thinking about our music and its posterity, Jann saw that we needed a place to celebrate popular music and recognize the people who had made the music grow. It was a visionary idea and he stuck with it,” said Mick Jagger.
Sykes, a long-time entertainment and cable television executive, is President of Entertainment Enterprises for iHeartMedia, the largest audio company in America. He was a co-founder of both MTV and VH1, and has been a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame board for 25 years.
“Jann Wenner is a cultural legend,” says Sykes, “It’s an honor to serve the foundation in this new capacity, and to build on Jann’s legacy.”